THE United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relife (PEPFAR) on Friday launched the HIV/AIDS Media Awards competition as a way to recognise along with appreciating Zimbabwean journalists’ efforts in educating and informing Zimbabwe on the disease.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
The awards cover photo, print, online and broadcast journalism. Entries should have been published or broadcast between October 2018 and October 2019.
Announcing the launch at PEPFAR’s 15 th anniversary in Zimbabwe, PEPFAR Coordinator Mr Mark Troger said the awards were in their third year running.
“So tonight in addition to celebrating 15 years, we are launching the media awards. The PEPFAR media awards. So we have invited a number of media here to inform them of this and also to welcome them to this important event. It is the third year doing this and we are excited because they have covered a lot of things that our partners are doing, informing the public about HIV and the things they need to know to get on treatment,” he said.
Mr Troger added that from next year, they will be focusing on on a number of issues.
“As I mentioned, this year we are marking our 15th anniversary and part of doing that we have hashtag 15. Use that Hashtag, #PEPFAR15 if you are on twitter and instagram. The number of people seeking HIV related is increasing in Zimbabwe but we are not quite there yet. There are issues affecting people with disabilities, key populations. Our implementing partners have been accomplishing great things to help you cover and they are hosting an initiative to have a media tour in Mashonaland Central, from November 26 to November 30. There are some exciting things we are focusing on,” he said. “here are some exciting things we are focusing on. We also need to give the media a few ideas on what to cover over the coming year. HIV Testing. There are people in Zimbabwe who are HIV Positive but have not been tested, know about those services to get tested. We need your help.”
Mr Troger noted the need to continue spreading the message on the importance of adhering to treatment.
He added that Zimbabweans need to know that when one religiously takes ART, the risk of transmitting the disease is low.
“The other thing is U=U. Undetectable=Untransmitable. Its now scientifically proven that people who take their ARVs, their viral load suppressed, won’t transmit the disease. We need people to know that. We need people to understand that,” said Mr Troger.
He also mentioned the need to reach men when raising awareness on HIV.
“Men are the largest population in Zimbabwe with HIV Positive and are not on treatment. A lot of men are strong, they are healthy but are not going to clinics,” said Mr Troger.
On the same machoman note,Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) coordinator Clarence Mademutsa said through a grant they received from PEPFAR they will soon be going in four districts in Zimbabwe raising awareness on the importance of men to take up HIV related services.
HealthTimes editor Mr Michael Gwarisa was awarded the National HIV/AIDS Reporting award’s second prize alongside Shamiso Yikoniko from the SundayMail, Mirirai Nsingo, H-Metro and Nhau Mangirazi a freelance Journalist.